Thursday, June 21, 2018


UPDATE:  THURSDAY 06/21/2018
ORIGINAL PUBLICATION:  06/19/2018 - 5:02 AM










Preparing for the worst.  That is how The Stark County Political Report (SCPR, The Report) terms a work study session of the Canton City Schools (CCS) held at the Nadine McIlwain Administrative Center in "the heart of downtown Canton" last evening.

The tone of the meeting on the HOF agenda item was set as CCS superintendent Adrian Allison outlines the effort of the CCS in coordination with its legal counsel Jeff Bomberger (see legal background below) talks about the effort to structure how the stadium land and other parcels are legally structured to give CCS the best protection should the HOF-VP fail and the stadium and other CCS owned properties are foreclosed upon.  

Allison and Bomberger credit Stark County auditor Alan Harold with being an important factor in the restructuring, to wit: (3:58)

Among the media, only the SCPR was present.

What would one expect from a media outlet that proudly bills itself as "the official newspaper of the Pro Football Hall of Fame?'

Apparently, with the overriding concern of the meeting being "protecting" the Canton City Schools from a HOF-VP meltdown, The Repository chose to ignore any mention of such a possibility.

However, one SCPR reader alleges that Bomberger betrays a "conflict-in-interest" in revealing an accomodation to the $10 million bond purchase interest of HOF Village LLC on an Auditor Alan Harold $40 million "stadium" valuation and $7 millon "youth fields" evaluation that in his judgement still protects the CCS.

There is some evidence of HOF-VP connected/sympathetic folks putting pressure on the likes of Harold and other Stark County political subdivision officials to do the bidding of the HOF Village LLC folks.

Bomberger himself talks about Harold being under pressure.  So one cannot out-of-hand dismiss skepticism that this whole deal is being orchestrated by the HOF connected/sympathetic persons.

Another interpretation is (the SCPR's view) that these are negotiations and negotiations are inherently "give & take" and Bomberger's work should be seen in that light.

Here is the pertinent part of Bomberger's presentation on the matter:  (3:06)

The session could be the most important ever in the history of the Canton City Schools in terms of protecting the school district from any liability should the Hall of Fame Village Project "go belly up" as one Stark County political subdivision official predicted repeatedly in a two hour discussion with The Report on Sunday evening past.

Canton City schools legal counsel Jeff Bomberger of the Cleveland branch of the Squire Boggs Patton presented, gave explanations of and took questions regarding two declarations (including a proposed authorizing resolution) to be added to the CCS/HOF Village LLC/Stark Port Authority agreements.

A CCS BOE meeting is scheduled for Thursday, June 21, 2018 at 3:00 p.m. at:   the Nadine McIlwain Administrative Center, 305 McKinley Avenue N.W., Canton, Ohio.

Bomberger is described thusly on the firm's website:

Jeff Bomberger focuses his practice on representation of Ohio port authorities, primarily in economic development finance matters. Beginning in late 1988, Jeff took a lead role in transforming a local airport/seaport authority into a leading regional economic development financing agency in 
northwest Ohio.

He played a significant role in implementing the first structured lease financings by Ohio port authorities and in the creation and development of common bond fund financing programs to provide credit support for economic development finance projects. His efforts helped to expand the major regional airport, retain the headquarters of one of the leading corporate citizens in the region and otherwise attract and retain jobs. His legislative drafting efforts resulted in the ability of Ohio port authorities to act on an extra-territorial basis to promote jobs and employment opportunities.

Jeff serves as both bond counsel and general counsel to Ohio port authorities, providing counsel on a broad range of matters including corporate organization, contracting, ethics law, public records and open meetings, budgeting and appropriations and other matters. Recently, he has served as bond counsel to various Ohio port authorities on cooperative structured tax increment and special assessment financings, off-balance-sheet structured operating lease financings and other major economic development financings and refinancings.

Jeff has been a member of the National Association of Bond Lawyers and has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America each year since 2006.

The SCPR today begins parsing the CCS/Bomberger exchange.

For starters, The Report was surprised that board members did not discuss ability of the Canton City School System to afford getting the stadium back minus the lease should the HOF-VP "go belly up."

What are these folks thinking?

All they have to do is to look at Massillon city government and the financial albatross it is apparently saddled with in taking ownership of the former Affinity Medical Center complex.

What follows are a number of video excerpts with CCS board members peppering Bomberger with questions:

First, Member and BOE vice president Eric Resnick: (also a Member Mark Dillard interject) (3:05)

Resnick perceptively asks questions about why the "protective" Declarations now?  As far as the SCPR is concerned, Bomberger sidesteps Resnick's question.

See for yourself.

Next up is Member and board president J.R. Rinaldi (who is also a key official in the Mayor Thomas Bernabei administration of Canton government which is the authority for the CCS/HOF/Port Authority TIF) questions Bomberger about improvement in which exchange Bomberger reveals:

  • That proceeds from the contemplated bond (remember about $10 million) will go to IRG (Stu Lichter's company) as reimbursement for infrastructure improvements already made at the HOF complex,
  • That "the close date" on the CCS/HOF/Port authority TIF approval is next Wednesday, June 27th,
  • That the CCS needs to approve prior to the 27th, and
  • That unless the CCS approves the Declarations/Resolution the TIF will not go into effect
Moreover, Bomberger goes in to CCS rights in use of stadium/youth fields/parking lot in the event of a "full breakdown" in the HOF-VP and a concomitant foreclosure by the CCS on the properties.

Member Rinaldi near the end of the following video says to Bomberger:  "We just cannot do this [approve the Declarations] on the fly."  


The absolute final date for approval according to Bomberger is June 30th.  So why is the CCS BOE meeting on the 21st (a mere 3 days after the Bomberger presentation) to considered what all say is a highly complex matter?

The video: (13:11)

Although the SCPR has from the get-go (even at an initial projected cost of $480 million) been skeptical that financial resources would be forthcoming to complete the project as described early on in 2014/2015 as C. David Baker was brought in by the National Museum, Incorporated Board of Trustees to start work as the president/CEO of what is dubbed (i.e. "doing business as" ["dba"]) the Professional Football Hall of Fame. The Report's certainly of HOF-VP ultimate failure as envisioned has not been nearly as the the political subdivision source cited in this blog.

The day after Baker arrived in his office, who was hot on his tail?

Of course, master developer Stuart Lichter who has left a trail across the United States of America with a bevy of heavily taxpayer subsidized projects with very little if any taxpayer accountability, to wit:

The SCPR considers the Baker/Lichter alliance an "all-in-it-together" duo with tag-alongs Repository publisher James Porter and Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce president/CEO Denny Saunier.  And, of course, there is The Rep's cheerleader-in-chief Todd Porter (reportedly, a cousin of the publisher).

Ultimately responsible for the success/failure of the HOF-VP is the HOF Board of  Trustees with the SCPR focus being on Stark Countians who service on the board.

It is truly amazing that our "living in Stark County" HOF trustees would let Phase 1 of the project balloon from an initial estimated $24 million to what some are saying is now $171 million and perhaps as high as $250 million.

One member of the Stark County Port Authority several months ago opined:  "How did this happen?"

That member and all Ohio/Stark County taxpayers (with no accountability from the HOF Village LLC folks) need to look no further than our locals.

Apparently, they have been every bit dazzled by the charismatic C. David Baker as some Stark County political subdivision officials have been and let this project get way-out-of-hand right under their collective noses.

As always, this blogger repeats ad nauseam that the SCPR hopes that Baker et al will find the The Report's skepticism ill-founded and the political subdivision official profoundly wrong in predicting the ultimate failure of the HOF-VP as envisioned.

If the HOF-VP was wholly and completely "a private sector" project, then the SCPR with its mission of local official accountability, accessibility, transparency, communicativeness and openness to public scrutiny would likely not be weighing in.

Godspeed to those entrepreneurs among us who want to risk the private wealth on a project such as the HOF-VP.

But the fact of the matter is that millions upon millions of Ohio/Stark County political subdivision taxpayer money is part of the underwriting of the now estimated to be $1 billion plus cost of the HOF-VP and therefore The Stark County Political Blog has been and will continue to be the vanguard of media holding the likes of Baker, Lichter, the HOF Board of Trustees, local affected/involved school district officials, city officials and county officials accountable for how taxpayer is spent and for them to document a highly productive return on investment for taxpayer dollars going to the HOF-VP!


Copy of proposed resolution and declarations (to be added later)





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